The Bennies – 420 Supersonic Bionic Chronic Party
Laneway Studios, Abbotsford VIC
April 20th, 2019
Supports: Pandamic, Boss Melody, SJ Snesmega and Dal Santo
An appropriately ramshackle gig hosted in an appropriately slapdash venue was the sordid and gleeful staging of The Bennies 6th-ish annual 420 (pro-weed, you narc) party.
Here’s the facts; everyone – bands, staff, and crew included – were extremely high, persistent technical problems were swiftly dealt with by a tech-angel in the form of a gargantuan, red-haired bearded saviour, the photos are terrible because there was next to no stage lighting, and everyone had a lot of fun except one kid who passed out standing up by 5pm and one other guy that did a big vomit in the hallway, apologized, and promptly excused himself from the gig.
Laneway studios conjured and executed a rollicking and pleasant in equal measure, and should be monumentally proud of their efforts in doing so considering just how utterly toasted everyone was. Your humble photographer arrived just in time to see Boss Melody lay out some truly lovely reggae beast, resplendent with live horns, vintage electronic organ, and some encapsulating female-driven lyrics about peace and love throughout. They were the absolute, smack-bang perfect jam to see the sun down while the growing crowd swayed happily in Melbourne’s uncharacteristically warm April weather. They also did Ramones and Peter André covers, much to the dizzy crowd’s delight.
Sun down and THC dosages way up, Pandamic set the venue alight with their sometimes-improvised, but otherwise tight and expressive brand of grunge-pop-punk that landed sonically between Taking Back Sunday and In Utero. They were humble and sweet dudes who are surely on the way up, having drawn a crowd who mostly knew little or nothing about them right in from the get-go. Exciting stuff in stark contrast to the brands both preceding and succeeding them on the bill, but enjoyed heartily never-the-less.
Last, most wasted, most happy, most exciting, and far from least, were our BFF musical stoners The “mother fucking” Bennies. It’s impossible to say a bad word about these modern local Melbourne party-ska-thrash-doom-psychedelic-punk heroes that hasn’t already not been said. They’re kings of a good time, and the most fun musical outfit to come out of this crazy town since possibly forever. Wherever there’s a party to be had from the rooster-infested bush dance halls of Nimbin, to China, or even the tiny car park of a recording studio in Abbotsford before they go back to Europe to explode once more, your boys The Bennies are all about making sure everyone in the room has a bloody great time, forgets their woes, and goes home a little happier about the state of the world afterward. Sure, they fucked up a couple of times on this particular occasion, but who can blame them after so brazenly punching bongs for half a day before this particular set in honour of a day that brings people together to enjoy one of life’s most chill and positive sensory experiences. They pulled it together despite the power going out both mentally and literally a couple of times (cue the bearded tech angel), and the party ended all too soon.
Happy 420, planet Earth. Let it be said as always that the criminalisation of marijuana is criminal in itself. Not one fight or bad vibe pervaded this jovial celebration of sweet ganja; a statement that cannot and will not ever be claimed by any night clubs cross our town or the world who let people drink the world’s most dangerous drug until they blackout, fight, or die, but won’t let them have a relaxing jazzy cigarette on the balcony to feel peaceful and happy. Weed is love and our government fucking sucks contradictory farts because they fear that which they don’t understand. With bands and punters like Saturday’s proving an exemplary example of the harmlessness of it all, maybe the times will change sooner than we all think.
Much love to you all.
Words and terrible photos by Todd Gingell